LAKE OCONEE, Ga. — A fiscal year 2024 budget of $175.2 million as well as a new track and field facility were unanimously approved by the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors at its annual two-day spring meeting that concluded Friday.
The budget projection for 2024 represents nearly an eight percent increase from the 2023 budget of $162.2 million.
Among the other agenda items discussed on Friday, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks introduced preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which received unanimous board approval. Head football coach Kirby Smart joined the board in-person and head track and field coach Caryl Smith Gilbert recorded a video message to discuss how the new facility will benefit both programs.
“This project will continue to elevate our track and field programs to compete in SEC and NCAA championships,” Smith Gilbert said in her recorded remarks. “Our own dedicated space off South Milledge will provide an area for our athletes to train all year long. It will bring young people to our campus to compete in junior events, while giving us an area to host elite SEC and NCAA competition. This will be a truly one-of-a-kind facility, and I want to thank Josh Brooks, President Jere W. Morehead and the entire athletics board for making this happen.”
Design plans for the new track and field facility — which will be located on South Milledge across the street from the soccer and softball complex — are scheduled to begin this summer. The new venue allows for Georgia student-athletes to have a place to train all year, while providing opportunities to host SEC and potentially NCAA national championship events. There are also plans to build a new indoor facility, which will become the only indoor track and field complex in the state of Georgia. The name of the new venue will remain Spec Towns Track.
The current track and field space located off South Lumpkin Street will be converted to two full-length all-grass football practice fields.
“One thing I know about Coach Smart is he is highly focused on efficiencies in everything he does,” Brooks said. “He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields. There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”
Other agenda items included a full financial report from board treasurer Ryan Nesbit, a student-athlete wellness report from Faculty Athletics Representative Professor David Shipley and a message of gratitude from outgoing student representative Briana Hayes.
The next UGAAA Board of Directors meeting will take place this fall.